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Parenting: Don’t Compare Your Children

As a parent it’s important to be able to recognize that every child is different. You never want to compare your children; you want to parent each child with that child’s needs in mind. Siblings are known to have rivalries and famously fight and compete against each other all the time, but as a parent you should not reinforce that type of behavior by openly comparing them. “Why Can’t You Be More Like Your Sister/Brother?” This is a statement that no child should ever have to hear. By saying something like this you are belittling your child, making them feel like they are not good enough or AS good as their sibling. Comparisons almost always backfire. Your child is unique; they are not and will never be someone else. It’s natural for parents to compare their kids, but don’t let your child hear you doing it. Kids will develop at their own pace; they have their own emotions and personality. Comparing your child to someone else implies that you wish they were different. But the truth is that there are early developers, late bloomers and steady-as-you-go kids, so comparing your children’s personalities or performances isn’t fair for anyone. What this means for you:

  • Focus on your child’s improvement and effort and use your child’s results as the indication for his or her own progress and development.
  • Help your child identify his or her own talents and interests. Recognize that his or her strengths and interests may be completely different to those of his or her siblings.
  • Keep your expectations for success in line with their abilities and interests. If expectations are too high, kids will give up. If they are too low, they will usually meet them!
  • Take pride in your children’s performance at school, sport or leisure activities. You should celebrate their achievements and milestones as individuals rather than comparing them as a group.

Part of the fun and craziness of having more than one child is getting to know who each new individual is and seeing how the next child differs from the last. Family life can be an exciting mess of multiple faces, styles, quirks, personalities, preferences, problems, and talents. Even though we sometimes wish it could be simpler, we should bite our tongues when the, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” thought goes through our minds—And I’m sure most parents agree that they don’t really want their children to be carbon copies of one another. Parents have hopes and dreams for their kids – and many may not be in line with their own interests and talents. Regardless, a parent’s job is to give them the guidance to be the best version of themselves and not anybody else.

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